Monday, December 27, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Friday, December 3, 2010
You know you are doing something wrong
Or something so right.
When my thoughts die down
And my fingers can't find the nerve to type
You know you are a part of something so wrong
Or something so right.
When the chill of the winter
Feels warm inside
You know you are amidst the wrong
Or playing your cards right
When the night becomes a friend
And you become a stranger to yourself
Then it all seems so wrong
But it feels right
When you are in the space
That is undefined
Then what is wrong
And what is right?
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
Sunday, September 26, 2010
So this poem is loaded
Read it carefully
Only if you can afford it.
That lump in your throat
At the memory of that
Which only you know
Break the fall of the mighty oak
Wake up now and tell me what you really broke
Find the answer in the smoke
Of the broken mighty oak
Catch the ball of yarn
And spin yourself a fine song
The kind that would make you strong
What is right, prove it wrong
In your little cocoon
Build yourself a fake baboon
Revolve around the silver moon
Wear a medallion in the shape of a balloon
Burst that bubble
And watch in wonder
As the pieces fall asunder
Is there time for one last blunder?
Sunday, September 19, 2010
I don't get a goodbye, neither should you
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Everyone has always told me I resemble my father and my sister is a “photocopy” of my mother. This has always been a put-off. I resemble a man, how is that a compliment? But the aunties would reply, “But your father’s a good looking man”, as if that makes it better!
So, ever since I was born, I have been this hairy little girl with apparently a manly face, with my father’s stubby fingers, and his thin lips, fortunately minus the moustache. Supposedly, a physical reflection of my dad, my sister is the one who has really taken after him. When my dad’s not around, she is truly the man of the house.
My external beauty is a birthday gift from dad, but my inner beauty comes from mom all the way.
I have loved my dad for as long as I can remember. I loved him, for all daughters love their fathers. There wasn’t much of an argument about it really, we love each other because that’s how the Gods intended it to be. He looked like the legendary actor Dharmendra when he was younger, but I am pretty sure I would have loved him had he looked like the legendary villain Pran. He could look like Sunil Shetty for all I care! He’s my dad and I love him. Period.
We have some wonderful memories together, we are family, you know, and families always make for wonderful memories. I have lived for twenty one years now and I have seen many faces of my father. In his one life, I often feel my dad has lived many. He’s the cat with nine lives.
In retrospect, I wouldn’t expect anything less eventful from him. He has always been the adventurous kind, never doing things the traditional way. I get that from him I guess. He is quite the traveller, a gypsy of sorts. And so his life has been one journey after another. He has conquered many mountains only to find himself tumbling down and then climbing up again. I have rarely seen him fear the unpredictable terrain life has to offer. Every day is a winding road and the destination is rarely insight, but his book of life surely reads character.
He has never been a traditional father. I don’t remember him telling us to study ever, in fact he would try his best to deter us from anything academic. They definitely had my dad in mind when they coined the phrase ‘daddy cool’ because he is, he is as cool as they get.
In August 2005, he was diagnosed with cancer. What followed was an endless series of hospital visits. He went into surgery on August 5 and came out with one lung less. I was in school the day of the surgery and I remember the day well, because I was singing a solo for the first time on stage. I don’t think I was very nervous about the song or the result, what I feared was what would follow.
My dad was fine after surgery, weak, yes, but he was a big man, and one operation wasn’t enough to take him down. The hospital was flooded with familiar faces that day. All well-wishers, taking responsibility for papers, finances and what not. It didn’t make much sense to me, to be very honest.
He’s a born entertainer, my dad. He might have lost a lung, but his will to amuse was very much there, and so was an audience of sympathizers. Every detail of the surgery was narrated to the listeners sat wrapt. They laughed when he did and wept when he told them to. The man was meant to be an actor...and just when you thought it was over, there would be an encore.
Few weeks after surgery dad was taken for his first chemotherapy. That was the real test. Within weeks he shed 30 kgs. The strongest man in the world for me, was now barely a skeleton. Chemo had hit him bad. He wouldn’t eat, wouldn’t sleep at night and the side effects of chemo had taken a real toll on him. What was to be a cycle of six sessions, was stopped at four, for his body just couldn’t take it. Dad had always been a big man and seeing him like this was as good as seeing someone else.
Fewer visitors would now come to see him. Reasons varied, some, I figured, couldn’t bear to see him like that, others came to be entertained and got nothing, so stopped coming and still others got busy with their own lives. But this had become our life. This had become my father’s life. A perpetual struggle for survival. A constant battle with pain. While we watched him suffer, writhing in agony, begging god for mercy.
Certain days were particularly painful to witness. Chemo combined with his migraines used to take a heavy toll on him. It appeared to be a kind of a ‘cruciatis’ curse, from Harry Potter. He spent nights on end making a plea bargain with god, while all we could do was pray.
But he bounced back soon enough. In 2007, dad was cancer free and working, the only year that has happened since the disease was diagnosed. With one lung less and a head sans hair, he devoured the streets of Chandni Chowk for my sister’s wedding preparations and got her married in 2009. I kid you not, my father was the most handsome man at the wedding. The wedding was one that will be remembered for years to come and he made sure all my sister’s wishes were granted. With that, he successfully inaugurated a new chapter in the book of the Puri’s.
Tragedy struck again. Soon after the wedding dad’s cancer returned, this time in his spine. The dreaded chemo began again, but the rockstar that he is, dad sailed through the sessions. Between 2005 and 2010, he has undergone a total of 36 chemotherapy sessions. Mention that to him, and he’d probably joke about it.
Dad is five feet-eight-inches tall, has one lung and so an uneven shoulder alignment, barely any hair on his head, but a healthy moustache. He smiles every time he sees me and his eyes sparkle every time he sees butterscotch ice cream. He is now fighting brain cancer. He is in a daze often and is unable to walk at the moment. Something in him never lets him give up and every time he sees me, I know what it is. My heart sings with joy on days when he sends me a flying kiss and sinks when he doesn’t remember my name. He fights with us because we feed him. He fights this disease because we love him. I could just say my dad’s a fighter, but that won’t be enough.
He is a father.
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Sunday, May 2, 2010
As a child I had been forced to attend certain classes, which were conducted in a language I didn’t quite understand. I was told, it was the language of the gods. In balavihar, I soon understood what the Gods were trying to tell me in Sanskrit. Being a CHYK, or a member of the Chinmaya Yuva Kendra, helped me further unfold this secret message from the Gods. I realised He spoke in many languages, if only we could make ourselves available to His message. Through CHYK classes and camps, I was exposed to the study of a different kind of science, the science of life. My recent experience at the Youth Empowerment Programme, felt truly empowering and has cultivated in me a sense of direction, a zest to strive for perfection and overcome my limitations. Perhaps the greatest gift that CHYK has given me, is to plant in me a sense of gratitude, towards my nation and my culture and a platform to give back, through service.
Man is intriguing, all around us, we try to conquer nature, try to be one up on everything external, but when it comes to us, say an emotional problem or a personal crisis, we fall, unable to row ourselves out of the rapids that life offers us. And yet, we conquer the seas and the oceans and the rivers, we play with fire, toy with nature’s bounties, believing in our absoluteness, in our invincibility.
Somewhere, we lose faith in ourselves, our abilities. And that faith is rekindled when we are tested, we see how it is born out of us, effortlessly through some innate power that drives us. The experience of white water river rafting does just this, by giving us an opportunity to act zealously, live courageously, and reflect thoroughly.
Today I saw the river in its most playful mode. It was truly exciting. As part of a Chinmaya Yuva Kendra camp in Uttarkashi, I went rafting in the holy Ganges. It was as holy as it had been the day before (when we took holy dips at Gangotri), but much less fierce (in terms of its temperature), much more friendly and youthful. I realised God spoke in many languages. He spoke to us through the trees and the nature, through this Mighty River and through our experience on the raft. We could hear him, if only we could make ourselves available to His message. Being a CHYK, helped me further unfold this secret message from God. CHYK, through its camps facilitated learning in a unique way, known as ‘outdoor experiential learning’, through rafting and other such activities, and what a learning it was.
The day began early. We reached the sandy beach and were split into groups of six, given our life jackets, and introduced to our guide. The guide carried out his duties well, and most importantly, he told us our rafting jingle! We were all enthused and prepared to take on the mighty river! As I stood on the shore, waiting for our turn, I realized the irony of the situation. We were looking forward to facing rapids. I smiled to myself and I thought, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we faced life with the same enthusiasm? Wouldn’t it be the right attitude to face the rapids in our lives as a challenge, as a thrill? What a Sport life would become, a game, a beautiful journey.
Being the last group to go, we saw the others in action. They were being told when to row, how to sit, and to be quite honest, it looked and sounded a little complicated. The guides seemed pretty tough, let me just say this was no vacation cruise on a fancy yacht.
All geared up and slightly unnerved, we pushed our raft into the river, and I took the place I was assigned. All six of us were told which direction to row in, how to sit, when to row and the speed and effort at which we were to row. And then it was the guide’s time to shine. As we chartered unknown waters I thought to myself, “This is it, from this moment on, Mr. Guide, you are my God and my life is in your hands.” With a quick prayer, I paid attention to each and every instruction we were given. The first thing he said was that now we were to act like a team, we must keep rowing at all times and that every member of the team must play his or her part, irrespective of what position they have been given. Now I have to admit, at some point I must have got distracted by the beauty of the river and the excitement of finally being in the water, but if one is to do river rafting, one should pay attention to the instructions.
So the journey began, we were one on one with the river. Through her we ran, holding our oars tight and making our way through. Each oar gave the raft a direction and our instructor led us through the waters of the mighty Ganges. It was his correct guidance that channelized our strength to row properly when the rapids came. The first rapid was the hardest, I guess because I wasn’t sure of what to do, moreover, I wasn’t sure I could do it. It was an intense moment. The leader was shouting instructions at us all, “Row faster! Right hand row backwards! Keep rowing!”, and I’m thinking, “Why don’t you do it! You are a professional!” But Voila! We made it through! It’s a great feeling, that. A strange feeling of accomplishment, to do something for the first time and to do it well.
Crossing the first rapid called for a celebration, obviously. The leader told us all to lift our oars up in the air in a huddle and along with it, we sang our victory jingle! “Go baby, go baby, Go Baby!” and once again, we were highly energised to face our next rapid, as a team.
As we went along, one of the rapids was truly challenging for me. I think it was towards the end. My arms were tired of rowing, and this rapid was either particularly strong or I was weary or both. The force of the water was strong. It was splashing both inside and outside the raft. We all were drenched and I slipped out of position and fell inside the raft. I had almost given up on the rowing, I was tired and to be honest, I didn’t think they would miss me much. The others were strong and were handling it just fine. Just then, the instructor looked at me and yelled in a most rude manner, “Row, Now!” I was taken aback, but I resumed my post and did what I was told. Dear diary, I can never forget that man yelling at me and asking me to row. There is no room to feel sorry for yourself when you are headed towards your goal. It is not about you. Your duties are your own and must be done. In a team each must perform to his potential, only then can the team overcome rapids and swim towards the goal. Contrary to what we were told in school and our workplaces, in life you are indispensible. Life is indispensible. That one line has taught me so much. How easily we make things about us, not being sensitive to our family, friends and co-workers. At the end of the day, a team can perform well, and a balance can be maintained when all the team members do their duty well. If harmony is to be maintained, duties must be performed at all times.
Lord Krishna says to Arjuna in the third chapter of the Bhagwad Geeta, “Yoga of Action”,
Niyatam kuru karma tvam karma jyayo hy akarmanah
Sarira yatrapi ca ten a prasiddhyed akarmanah. Ch 3, 8.
Perform your obligatory duty, because action is indeed better than inaction.
Even the maintenance of your body would not be possible by inaction.
Wherever we are in our lives, we have been stationed for a purpose, why not explore our potential and live our purpose.
We reached the shore after fighting some more rapids and occasionally jumping into the river where it was calm. At one place our guide told us to jump off the raft and it was toppled over. It was thoroughly exciting. All of us worked together to turn the raft over and pulled each other back into the rafts, right before another rapid waited to greet us.
We were tired when we reached but exhilarated. One cannot say what we enjoyed more, the rapids or the occasional swim, and I would have to say both, as it all culminated into a grand experience. While we rowed through the last stretch, it wasn’t the destination that we looked forward to, we rowed because that’s what we had to do. The Bhagwat Geeta also teaches us not to be driven by the end product, rather enjoy the process of getting there. We rowed because we must. The enjoyment of the process, the experience of getting there is more important than the end result. So, we must perform our actions and carry out our duties efficiently rather than worrying about the results. The journey is what made the entire experience exciting, not the destination.
My reflections on what the rapids taught me!
Have the right perspective: A slight change in the way we look at things, can change everything. It is really up to us whether we see a situation as a crisis or as an opportunity to grow and learn. Albus Dumbledore says to Harry Potter, “It is our choices that make us truly who we are, far more than our abilities.” Choosing the right attitude, builds character.
Be Bold: When the sea of life faces a storm, be bold and stand your ground. We might be surprised to see what we are made of. Let us understand that every rapid that comes to us, makes us stronger.
Play your part, and play it well: At all times, we must perform our duties. Living our dharma is the only way to maintain a harmonious balance between the individual and society, lest the raft of life, topple over.
Be one with the moment: Let us not fall prey to worry and anticipation. Live in this moment, “Let your mind be where your hands are”, Gurudev says. Enjoy both, calm waters and rapids equally, for it is all part of the experience. Remember, the journey is more important than the destination.
Faith: Virtually all tasks are possible with this key ingredient. Have faith, in yourself, in your team and most of all in God. He will guide you to your destination, provided you are willing to row the boat. There is a much larger plan, and you are a part of it.
Some of us, rather most of us are waiting to find a job that pays us to do what we love. It is rather rare, but it does happen.
There is one thing common between travelling and writing: they both require a sort of free spiritedness. Most great people, saints and other learned men, travelled extensively and wrote with great fervour about their travels. On reading such a book of experiences, what comes through is not an itinerary of their travels, but something much more subtle: A glimpse into the soul of the writer and into the places visited.
Here’s welcoming you to the never static, ever-dynamic journey that is the life of a travel writer.
Travel literature today is much more commercially viable than it perhaps was just a decade ago as tourism reaches new heights. People are going places, and writers are telling people where to go.
However, the art of travel writing is more spiritual than anything else. A writer can bring in a third dimension depending on his ability to capture the pulse of the space he is in, whether it is a five star hotel or a village hut, the travel writer is first a traveller, ever ready to explore.
You don’t need to save money to take a trip to a resort in Singapore or a haveli in Udaipur to be inspired to write. Start simple, perhaps a trip to a local monument or a nearby town. Remember, travelling and writing have much to do with exploration within and without. While exploring a place, its nooks and corners, conversing with the locals, is an ideal way to capture its pulse, writing requires a different kind of exploration, a journey within. A good travel write up is thus, a perfect balance between exploration and introspection.
Travel is not just the movement of the body but also of the soul. Simply put, a travel journalist must take all he can from the outside, mix it with what’s on the inside to produce something extraordinary.
Words of caution: All tourists are not travellers, all travellers are not tourists.
Research always makes for good writing. But if I wanted just information, I would google it and toss your write up in the bin.
While research can get you only so far, a unique style of writing can get you further. Add to that a unique perspective and you’ve got an article with personality.
A good write up is not only informative but should also have the ingredients to inspire the reader to travel.
Point to remember: It’s not the place that makes a man, but the man who makes the place.
There is good and then there is great. An extraordinary article is made of not three but four dimensions, one which comes only with experience and exposure. Fortunately, a travel writer’s job is all about exposure.
A person who has an adventurous spirit and a polite independence is born to travel. Blend it with a passion for writing and you’ve got a travel writer good to go. An experienced traveller has that extra zing in his writing, which makes for a write up hard to forget.
Few words of wisdom: A seasoned traveller finds the excitement in the journey, not just the destination.
The college of the world
A mandatory degree in free-spirited-ness
Must own or (have the ability to borrow) a bagpack
A sturdy pair of walking shoes
And a flair for writing
When and where can you start:
Here and Now.